SLOW RE­COV­ERY

Filipinos start re­build­ing homes af­ter deadly typhoon

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YUNBI in Ta­cloban, Philip­pines

Zhang Yong, head of the Blue Sky Res­cue Team of the Red Cross So­ci­ety of China, spent the past week with his seven team mem­bers search­ing for bod­ies in ar­eas rav­aged by Typhoon Haiyan.

Af­ter the fourth day of search­ing, his feet were cov­ered in mas­sive blis­ters. To make mat­ters worse, the blis­ters had started to fes­ter.

“Don’t move! Look! What have you done to them?” said Chen Yuqiu, a med­i­cal staff mem­ber of the in­ter­na­tional res­cue team of RCSC.

Chen care­fully poked each blis­ter with an in­jec­tion nee­dle to drain them of liq­uid and ster­il­ized the wounds. Zhang was rel­a­tively mo­tion­less dur­ing the treat­ment.

Thus far, Zhang and his team have re­trieved 51 bod­ies since their search op­er­a­tions be­gan on Nov 25 in se­verely dam­aged Leyte prov­ince in the cen­tral Philip­pines. All of the bod­ies have been trans­ferred to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

For Zhang, a vet­eran res­cuer who goes by the nick­name Yuan Shan (mean­ing “moun­tain far away”), the num­ber of bod­ies the RCSC has re­trieved is con­sid­er­ably high since most of the vic­tims im­me­di­ately af­ter the dis­as­ter — found float­ing in the wa­ter — had been res­cued in the first two weeks af­ter Nov 8.

“It is a hu­man­i­tar­ian duty and an ac­cepted prac­tice around the world to re­trieve dead bod­ies from a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter and make sure that they can rest in peace. The vic­tims de­serve re­spect like liv­ing hu­man be­ings,” Zhang said.

This is the first large-scale mis­sion for Zhang’s team, who he said have waited five years to take on a mis­sion of this mag­ni­tude. He and the team cov­ered al­most ev­ery ma­jor nat­u­ral dis­as­ter within China, in­clud­ing the Yushu earth­quake in 2010.

Zhang said there is lit­tle dif­fer­ence be­tween the op­er­a­tions in China and abroad as long as prepa­ra­tions are made.

“Be­fore go­ing to the Philip­pines, a group of our peo­ple gath­ered in­for­ma­tion to get a clearer pic­ture of the great­est de­mands within the dev­as­tated ar­eas,” he said.

Most of the team mem­bers are ex­pert hik­ers and had no trou­ble travers­ing the hilly is­lands of the Philip­pines.

WANG JING / CHINA DAILY

Chi­nese res­cuers dis­in­fect de­bris left by Typhoon Haiyan in Ta­cloban, the Philip­pines, on Nov 25.

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